If you once resided within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals-California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana-and meet the elements listed below, you may be eligible to receive your green card through the recently reached class action settlement of CSS/Newman (LULAC). Put simply, legalization ("amnesty" as it is known in the community) is back and you finally, might be able to get your green card.
Green card applications based on the settlement may be filed beginning on May 24, 2004. This application period will expire on or about May 23, 2005. In order to determine your eligibility, ask yourself the following:
- During the period between May 5, 1987 and Mary 4, 1988 (did you (or a parent or spouse) visit an INS office or Qualified Designated Entity (QDE) to apply for legalization, but were turned away because the INS or QDE believed that (1) you had traveled outside the United States after November 6, 1986 without advanced parole, OR (2) you had traveled outside the United States and returned after January 1, 1982, with a visitor's visa, student visa, or any other type of visa or travel document?
- Did you enter the United States before January 1, 1982, and then reside in continuous unlawful status, except for brief absences, from before 1982 until the date you (or your parent or spouse) were turned away by the INS when you (or your parent or spouse) tried to apply for legalization in 1987-1988?
- Were you continuously physically present in the United States, except for brief, casual and innocent departures from November 6, 1986 until the date you (or your parent or spouse) were turned away by the INS when you (or your parent or spouse) tried to apply for legalization?
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors, or have you ever been convicted of crimes, or committed acts which make you inadmissible pursuant to any provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act?
- Did you (or your parent or spouse) apply for a work permit or otherwise register for class membership under CSS or Newman/LULAC before October 1, 2000?
- When you (or your parent or spouse) visited the INS or a QDE during the application period, did you (or your parent or spouse) bring a completed application and fee with you?
Not all questions have to be answered yes in order to be eligible. Ideally, you will answer no to question 4, yes to questions 1, 2 and 3, and yes to question 5 or 6.
Of course, in order to obtain your green card, you will need to prove that you are you meet the above qualifications. But, one major difference between the legalization settlement and the short-lived Life Act legalization, is the type of proof that will be accepted. Here, the standard of proof is much less than what was expected of people before.
Other advantages under the new settlement is that the government is required to process applications within 180 days. In the event that the government is unable to do so, a "special master" from the court will be appointed to oversee all applications. Additionally, the settlement agreement affords wonderful age-out protections to individuals that entered before 1988 but turned 21 during the legalization process.
If you (or your spouse or parent) have been in the United States for the requisite period of time and believe that you are otherwise qualified to apply, do not wait any longer to perfect your status. You have a tremendous opportunity before you. Do not let it go to waste.